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6/5/11

Kingdom Keepers

Hey guys, I have decided to try my hand at a book review. Now this will probably be my only book review that I ever do but I have been wanting to do this for a while.  Now obviously since I'm dealing with a different medium, this review will be broken down differently. I'll start with the author, the cover, the plot and finally the characters.  Before I close it out,  I will discuss how well I thought the book ulitized Disney. Then I'll close it out with my final thoughts  Let's begin.


The Author




Ridley Pearson is the author of Kingdom Keepers but alongside this series he also write Peter and The Starcatchers. A series of  prequel books about Peter Pan that take place before the events of the Darling Children arriving in Neverland. So think Wicked for children.  We are not here to talk about that series though. We are here to talk about Kingdom Keepers and according to Pearsons' official site. It looks as though book number 5 titled Power Play in the Kingdom Keeper series came out just last month.  Now all of Pearson's children's books are published by Disney's publishing company.


The Cover





Now one of the first things that I take notice of when looking at a book is the cover.  Does the cover entice me? Id find it interesting. With this cover, it's okay but it looks a little bland to be honest.  I mean yes I can tell that is the Cinderella castle behind the kids but it doesn't exactly look like the castle. It does look like it to a certain extent but not all the way.  Also I kind of feel as though that that cover having a group shot of the five teens makes it crowded. Here again, I can see that they are running from the pirates and I like that. Honestly I just like seeing pirates that aren't Jack Sparrow on this cover. I think that perhaps the best looking thing on this cover would have to be the teenagers. This cover does give me a strange vibe though as I feel as though they are trying to make it look as real as possible without using actual photos of the park. Even with the minor gripes I have against the cover, I do like it as it does seem exciting.




The Plot

Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark is the first in a series of books aimed towards young children that take place at Disney World. In it five Orlando teenagers have signed up to work at Walt Disney World as DHI's Disney Host Interactive. DHI also stands for Daylight Hologram Imaging. Basically holograms of the five teens appear in the parks as tour guides for the guests. Though being a DHI comes with a price because each night when the children fall asleep they cross over into the park as their holograms. They have been brought to the park by Wayne an old  Imagineer who lives in Walt Disney's old apartment above the firehouse on Main Street. Wayne has brought them to the park as he fears that someone or something is trying to take over the park. He is right and it is a group called the Overtakers. You see when we go to sleep at night the park comes to life but not everything in the park is nice and happy. No some of the characters are truly evil. The only way for the teens to defeat the Overtakers is for them to solve a riddle left by Walt himself.


The Characters


Finn - In Disney After Dark, Finn is 14 years old.  Out of all the DHI's he is the most willing to accept the words of Wayne.  He unwillingly took on the role of leader but he proved himself capable for the role.  Finn also has what I consider one of the most dramatic moments that takes place in the book outside of the events of being a DHI.  In one scene he is trying to explain to his mother what has been going since he became a DHI. Even though Wayne warned the children that they cannot tell anyone. Finn had never lied to his mother before and he didn't want to keep this secret any longer because it was killing him on the inside. Though to no one's surprise, his mom does not beleive him and starts asking Finn for the truth. Even though Finn had been telling the truth.  In this moment, I felt bad for Finn because we have all been in a postiton where we were telling the truth but no one thought we were.

Isabella - Isabella is one of the few girls on the team she is very brave and she along with Charlene find one of the most important clues on to defeat the Overtakers.


Charlene -  Is one the most athletic members of the team but she just doesn't rely on her sports skills as she also uses her brain to help solve the clues.


Amanda - Is one of the few main child characters that is not a DHI but she does work with the DHI's to take down the Overtakers. She has her no reasons but she won't Finn know. Which makes him very weary of her even if Finn does have a crush on her. 


Wayne -  As I have said before Wayne is the one who recruits the teens to protect the park.  He was left this task by Walt Disney. As Walt feared that the villi ans he created would one day come to life and try take over the world.

Jez/Jess -  As I said about Amanda, she had her no reasons for helping the DHI's.  That reason being the Overtakers had kidnapped her twin sister and made her evil. At first the DHI's believed her to be the daughter of the main villain of this book. While Jez/Jess is not a bad character as she comes across as deceitful when she is under the control of the Overtakers but she shows that she cares for her sister when she is freed, I do have a problem with the idea of this type of character. Because it just feels more like something you would find in a soap opera than a children's action/adventure book set in Disney World. Also if Jess had been missing and Amanda was looking for her. Why weren't their mom and dad looking for Jess as well.


The Villain

Maleficent




Maleficent is the only major Disney character to have a major role in the book. She is the main villain of the book.  She is the one responsible for the events taking place at the park making it unsafe.  She is also the one who kidnapped Jess and tunred her into Jez.  At first the DHI's believe her to be the leader of the DHI's. But she just laughs at this idea and lets them know that there is someone much more powerful than her who she works for.  In my opinion, this was a good choice for a villain. Pearson also made her feel like a true threat. I must admit though I do believe that it seems he had the hardest time writing this character.  Which would not surprise me as trying to write a character that has already been established by someone else is no easy task. For the most part it seems he kept her true to her Sleeping Beauty appearance while adding a bit of snark to the character.


Usage of Disney

This is one area where the book truly shines.  Pearson uses the Disney lore greatly and the park to a great extent. One great example is how even though this takes place after Walt's death. Pearson still incorporates Walt into the book. One such example is that in order to defeat the Overtakers, Finn goes to One Man's Dream. An exhibit about Walt Disney in order to retrieve the very first pen Walt ever used to draw a character as that is the only way to defeat the Overtakers.  Another way, Pearson greatly incorporates Walt is with the main hub or meeting place for the DHI's being Wal'ts apartment above the firehouse on Main Street.  Now besides Walt, Pearson also puts the park attractions to great use. For example in order to solve the riddle, the DHI's go to Splash Mountain, Winnie The Pooh and It's a Small World.  That last attraction bring up one of my minor complaints towards the usage of Disney.

Obviously with this being an action/adventure book there are fighting sequences. Most of which I enjoyed greatly. Such as the very first one where Finn has to fight off the Pirates from Pirates of The Caribbean but they have the upper hand as they are using the cars from Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. Even though the cars have been detached from the ride they can still move and they now shoot real lasers. That was a great fight.

However, when it comes to Small World, the children are attacked by the dolls at one point. Yes, the Small World dolls start attacking them.  Now look, I'm not saying that I dislike this because that is a classic ride. But rather because the whole premise is so old and cliched among Disney fans. One of the oldest jokes about Small World is that the dolls come to life at night and start attacking people. At first I liked it but it dragged on and I just, "Really, you went with one of the oldest Disney jokes in history".   Other than fight sequence everything was all right.  I mean heck, Pearson even used Tom Sawyer Island as hideout for the DHI's and that is an area of the park that does not get much notice.  So besides the whole Small World thing, I believe Pearson used the Disney parks and Disney lore greatly.   

My Final Thoughts

In the end, I enjoyed this book immensely and I will admit at first I was a bit skeptical of the idea. Because even as Disney fan, I thought the premise sounded absurd.  Happily, I was wrong and this turned out to be quite an enjoyable book.  They had me hooked so much so that I'm thinking about picking up the rest of the books in this series.  Some of the book's naysayers claim it to be nothing more than fanficiton that got published. To an extent, I can understand that argument but this book is better than any Disney World fan fic that I have read.  I'd recommend for young adults and big time Disney fans. I don't know if anyone above the age of 13 would get anything out of this book. Though this goes back to something I believe if you wish to read this, then who cares about the suggested age. Just pick up a copy and read.



4 comments:

  1. ugh read the second book jess/jez are fairlies that means their fairly human and they are orphans
    jess's parents went somewhere and neverreturned amanda's drounded

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    1. Yeah, I have started listening to the audio version on my IPad and I have to say that it isn't as good as the first. I may review it sometime down the road but not right now and I don't know I feel the second book tried to force in too many plot twists to mess with the characters. At the time of this review though, I hadn't read the second book but looking back now, I don't think I missed much.

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    2. the third book is pretty good

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    3. Thanks for letting me know that.

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